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Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

 

Lecture Hall on the agenda for final approval at tonight’s NB City Council meeting

The Newport Beach City Council returns tonight for the first time in a month, following a nice holiday break, to convene business for 2024. Mayor Will O’Neill returns for his second term in the big chair.

Lots of things on tonight’s agenda which gets underway with the regular meeting at 4:30 p.m.

That being said, without a doubt, the biggest issue on the evening is Item 13, which calls for a vote on a third amendment to the Lecture Hall Building’s MOU between the city and the Library Foundation.

Approval will move the Lecture Hall onward towards breaking ground, with a 50-50 funding arrangement between the city and the monies raised by the Foundation to the tune of some $23+ million.

It’s certainly a controversial subject. The argument FOR says the community needs it; that it finishes the Civic Center campus; and that the Foundation has raised 50% of the money towards the project, even as the overall price has continued to climb.

Veiled arguments against say that the new hall would have very limited use, appealing to just a small, limited audience. The arguments also say the city will be out $23 million.

All appear to be simply false. The city’s commitment is just under $12 million. But to move AGAINST the project then rejects the matching nearly $12 million raised from the community. The limited claim use is also patently false. That only takes into consideration the current use numbers and not what could be developed. The Hall would be made available to numbers of other groups and use would increase dramatically by having it.

The results of adding this building to the Civic Center mix would also most likely be strongly beneficial to all tax streams supporting the city, virtually across the board – property, sales and transient occupancy taxes.

The only argument that even holds water against the project is that the overall costs to build have dramatically increased over the years. But remember, that pressure also forced the Foundation to increase their fundraising commitment, from which they’ve never faltered.

Will it finally be approved, once and for all? Interestingly enough, Item 14 immediately follows and calls for the awarding of the contract to build the facility to AMG & Associates.

A coincidence? I don’t think so.

Some of the other issues on the agenda include:

–Item 9, which is an amendment requested by city staff primarily seeking approval of some design and construction-related tasks for the San Diego Creek Trash Interceptor. This amendment translates into $100,411 in increased expenditures and an additional not to exceed amount of $75,411 towards the professional services agreement with Burns & McDonnell.

–Then items 10, 11 and 12 relate to updates primarily in the change from Past Mayor Noah Blom (2023) to Mayor O’Neill this year.

Item 10 relates to the 2024 Action Report of the Planning Commission and their tentative schedule.

Item 11 relates to the Annual Mayor Appointments. They are as follows:

Aviation Committee – Blom (Chair), Lauren Kleiman (Vice Chair)

Environmental Quality Affairs Committee – Blom (Chair)

Finance Committee – Mayor O’Neill (Chair, until June 30), Mayor Pro Tem Joe Stapleton (Chair, starting July 1) and Blom

Newport Coast Advisory Committee – Mayor O’Neill, Kleiman and Jennifer Carey (resident)

Water Quality/Coastal Tidelands Committee – Mayor Pro Tem Stapleton (Chair) and Brad Avery (Vice Chair)

Association of California Cities – Mayor O’Neill and Erik Weigand (Alternate)

League of California CitiesRobyn Grant and Weigand (Alternate)

Orange County Housing Committee (Advisory Committee) – Melinda Whelan (Community Development Department) and Ben Zdeba (Community Development Department) (Alternate)

Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District Board of Trustees – Weigand

Orange County Sanitation District – Avery and Weigand (Alternate)

San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency Board of Directors – Grant and Mayor O’Neill (Alternate)

Santa Ana River Flood Protection Agency – Mayor Pro Tem Stapleton and Avery (Alternate)

Southern California Association of Governments – Kleiman and Grant (Alternate)

Watershed Executive Committee – Avery, Mayor Pro Tem Stapleton (1st Alternate) and City Manager Grace Leung (2nd Alternate)

–And finally, Item 12 presents the Harbor Commission’s 2024 Objectives.

• • •

Okay, he’s back! Follow me here for a sec. I received an email over the weekend that started off by saying, “So, I have decided to step up! I am running for the 73rd Assembly District (against Cottie Petrie-Norris).” The email then went on to criticize Petrie-Norris’ present living arrangement by alluding to the fact that she has an apartment over by UCI, while is basically living outside of her District with her family in Laguna Beach.

Oh, and the email, signed by, make sure you’re sitting down…Scott Peotter! Remember him?

Peotter apparently wants to return to politics following those somewhat recent days when he served the Newport Beach City Council with controversy.

To make sure we all know he hasn’t lost his touch, Scott even added this one point to his email – “Meanwhile ‘Petry Dish Norris’ is making sure there are taxpayer funded menstruation products in the boys’ bathrooms at schools.”

Welcome to 2024 and another campaign in today’s American politics. Cottie, hold on, something tells me he’s just getting started.

One unconfirmed rumor also had Peotter running as ‘Scottie’ Peotter, hoping to confuse voters between Scottie and Cottie.

For those of you wondering, Petrie-Norris, before the last election, moved across district lines and now represents Costa Mesa and Irvine in the 73rd, instead of Newport Beach and Laguna Beach in the 72nd.

• • •

Speaking of the campaign trail, Speak Up Newport had scheduled a Congressional forum to meet the announced candidates running to backfill Katie Porter’s seat (including Scott Baugh, Max Ukropina and Joanne Weiss) on Wednesday, Jan. 10 in the Newport Beach Civic Center Community Room. However, due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict the forum has been CANCELED.

• • •

This just in from late last evening. Congressional Republican candidate Max Ukropina “was sorry that the Speak Up Newport Candidate Forum was canceled due to a scheduling conflict and (still) hopes a candidate’s forum can be organized before the primary. Giving voters the opportunity to hear directly from their candidates is incredibly important, which is why I will be hosting a town hall for voters tonight at the same time that this event was scheduled for.”

The gathering will be held tomorrow at The File Group, 2919 East Coast Highway, Suite A, Corona del Mar from 5:30-7 p.m.

RSVP to www.maxforoc.com/townhall.

• • •

And this in from Assemblywoman Diane Dixon in the 72nd.

The Assembly had a new Speaker (Robert Rivas) selected last week that in turn translated to a number of changes in committee assignments.

Dixon going forward will serve on Appropriations (fiscal bills, including bonds and alternative public financing), Banking & Finance (financial institutions, real property finance, consumer finance and corporate securities), Business & Professions (creation and oversight Department of Consumer Affairs, professional licensing and product labeling), Governmental Organization (Alcoholic Beverage Control, gambling/tobacco, outdoor advertising, state contracting, holidays, seals, official acts), Judiciary, serving as Vice Chair (family law, product liability, tort liability, Civil Code and Evidence Code) and Rules, serving as an Alternate (proposed amendments to the rules, and other matters relating to business of the Legislature).

She reminds constituents “that if you have an opinion on a bill, you can tell the committee members by clicking here, selecting the relevant committee and then simply submitting your position letter.”

• • •

The City of Newport Beach has introduced a new license program offering 16 onshore and offshore city-owned moorings to the public that will be available in a variety of sizes. Interested parties may apply through March 1.

The new program is designed for vessel owners to lease moorings long-term without having to acquire a permit, sub-permit or mooring equipment.

Monthly fees will be charged based on the size of the mooring, starting at $162 a month for an 18-ft. mooring. There is no cost to apply for one of the 16 new mooring leases.

The licenses will be issued by random drawing from the applications, with mooring assignments based on the fit to vessel size.

Applicants not receiving a mooring assignment in the initial drawing will be placed on a waiting list, as will applicants who submit after March 1.

Successful applicants will be contacted after the drawing and have 14 days to execute a mooring license agreement.

The mooring license application can be completed and submitted online via the City’s Virtual Connect application portal.

For more information, visit www.newportbeachca.gov/harbor or contact the Harbor Department at

harbormaster@newportbeachca.gov, or 949.270.8159.

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